We’ve all seen the movies. Whether based on fiction or real-life events, small close-knit communities hate the existence of big manufacturing/chemical factories that will throw garbage into the water source that can potentially kill the residents. Except for a few town people and local officials who will benefit from the company, most people in the community will be vehemently opposed to it because the business operations pose a risk to their health. If only stories like these were only made for movies, maybe the world wouldn’t be this way now.
But alas, movies are half-true. And in so far as big companies versus communities, the former always won by a mile, no matter how well-meaning a community is. However, lately, big companies have a more pronounced intention to make a good first impression on the communities they will have an impact on. The reason is social media. As social media becomes rampant all over the world, companies begin to realize that the real power is right at people’s fingertips. They can make or break any company in the world.
Lay out a Plan to Fight Pollution
One of the biggest problems with big companies such as those in the manufacturing, chemical, and medical industries is the lack of a plan on how to tackle the biggest problem they will create—pollution. Since actual people live in the vicinity of the factory or office, they are naturally concerned about how you will create and, more importantly, dispose of waste.
As a company, you should make sure to have a stormwater pollution prevention plan drawn up. This is a written and signed document by a company that, among many others, identifies its company’s activities that can cause water pollution. After identifying the activities, they need to draw a plan or solution to prevent the discharge of dangerous substances into the community’s water sources.
You can also look into using renewable sources of energy for your business. Is it wind, thermal, or solar? Make sure that the community is aware of the steps you are taking to reduce pollutants that can harm the air. Be open to criticisms. Think also about holding regular dialogues with them so that you are aware of their concerns about how your business can impact the environment and their health.
Get Involved in Community Programs
No successful company in the world has ever reached that point without getting involved in community projects and events. This is one of the first things that bigger companies do when they decide on building an office, store, or factory in a town. They reach out to community leaders to know how they can win them over. The answer has always been the same—to support initiatives of the town’s citizens. Isn’t that easy enough?
Most communities only have a handful of events per year. If you have 100 or more employees, surely you can spare a couple of hundreds of dollars per event to win over the community members? Sometimes, they will ask for you to sponsor a particular event. Don’t always say no. Instead, open your eyes to the possibility that this could be a win-win situation. You can make such a thing work for you.
Be Clear About Your Advocacy
What is the goal of your business? Be very clear about your company’s social responsibility and advocacy. Even if the advocacy has nothing to do with the community, let them know that you’re sending the less fortunate to school or that you’re feeding the hungry in Africa. Having clear advocacy will draw people to you. Some community members may share your passion for education and ending hunger, for example. These are the kinds of things that can turn communities around.
If one or more of them start to participate in your advocacy programs, then that will open opportunities for engagement. This is something you can use to your business’ advantage in terms of employment, sourcing, or sales. You’re pursuing your advocacy at the same time that you’re building your network within the community. Your business will end up reaping all the benefits.
Every business needs to acknowledge the role that communities play in their success. Making a good first impression is a good start-off point because it gives the company more opportunities to prove itself. If you are what you say you are and can truly benefit the community, then they will eventually realize that. But to get to that point, you must first recognize the incredible power of making lasting impressions.